Updating with Paint: Quick Changes on the Cheap

You all know how much I love painting things around the house.  I’ve been doing it for years and years, way before blogging days.  Spray paint and I have been friends for a long, long time.  And mixing up a quart of paint and redoing a vanity or side table is such an easy fix to get a new look without breaking the bank.

So, let’s take a look at some of my past projects that have been the most popular (and pinned) of my projects and they all involve paint.

I’ll start off by giving you all a little update on the Annie Sloan chalk paint project I’m currently working on at my sis’s craft room.  I came to the conclusion that this table should never have been waxed.  It is just not the right application for waxing, so I’m going to Plan B.  I’ve heard you can remove it by wiping with mineral spirits, so that may be my method.  I’ll remove the wax and probably add a hand applied Satin poly topcoat to smooth it out and protect it as well.  Chalk paint does have a chalky feel and finish and it’s not all that touch friendly used alone. The wax gives it a nice smooth feel.

You can see below that I brushed on clear wax.  We left it for about 2 weeks and finally got back to it.  That wax dries pretty hard.

See how splotchy it is?  The purpose of the wax is to protect your chalk paint and once wax is applied and dry, you go back and buff it to a shine and it gives a hand rubbed wax finish and you can distress it for a vintage feel.  I should have just left this table and chairs alone and not tried to wax it.  The tabletop is too big to get a really smooth wax finish.  I really think the vintage pieces are much more suited to the whole Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and waxing procedure.

Clear wax on the left, dark wax on the right.

The dark wax is great applied on areas that you want to highlight. It acts just like a stain would and will grab the wood, so you have to apply the clear wax first, before you even think about adding dark wax.  I wiped most of this off and it left a little bit of aging. But, then I changed my plan and decided to just do a straight painted look. We are not going to sand down this table, that blond wood underneath is not great to highlight.  My plan now is to just add wipe on Satin poly and to spray the chairs with poly as well just to protect and make the chalk paint feel better.  This Barcelona Orange is a great color though and we are glad we chose it.

I still give a big thumbs up to Annie Sloan chalk paint and will continue to use it, but it will mostly be for vintage pieces with more details that I want to highlight.   I’m going to try to buff down the wax more and I heard that I can then paint over it with another coat of chalk paint.  I’ll get this thing finished one day!

So, let’s get back to other ways you can change up furniture.  I love paint!  Love it for updating older pieces and here are some of my favorite projects to date.  These chairs were a little tired looking to me, so a couple years ago, I got out the black spray paint and updated them with new paint and fresh fabric.

Spray painting furniture black

You can find all the details in this post, spray painting furniture black.  It’s one of my top projects that get lots of clicks.

After spray painting, I simply used an electric sander and sanded back the edges, added stain with a Q-tip and that was it.  It’s a simple and easy project  that anyone can do!  Yes, even you!

A few years ago, I found this pretty, but plain pine bookcase out on one of my yardsale ventures for $50.

I brought it home and completely changed it with paint.  After adding a real beadboard backing, I painted it all out black and the beadboard in a soft blue and this has become one of my favorite pieces ever.

In my old house, I decided to spruce up the plain jane white laminate vanity by painting it with Ralph Lauren Turret Stairs, a deep dark chocolate brown and it added so much depth and interest to this small bathroom.  If you prime laminate well, you can definitely paint it!  All the details are on this post. I won’t hesitate to paint a vanity again if I inherit an ugly one in the next house I’m in.

We are actively house hunting and when the right one comes along that we can score, it will happen.  I cannot wait for the right one!

So, that’s a few ways that I’ve updated using paint in the past few years.  You can see I have had a bit of a thing for black paint and I have loved adding black to a space over the years.  It really does ground a space by adding black around the room.

I hope this will give you more ideas on changing up some older pieces of furniture that you may have laying around.  Or, it might inspire you to get out and yardsale or thrift to find some good paint candidates that just need a fresh coat of paint. Whether you use black or a bright punch of color, the effect is the same.  Updated and fresh!

Are you painting furniture these days?  I’d love to hear about it!  What is your color of the moment?  

I’ll be back tomorrow with my parents’ bathroom reveal.  It is beautiful and I know you’re going to love it too! 
Apartment Guide DIY on a Dime-001
I’m partnering up with Apartment Guide today on this project.  You can definitely stretch your dollar using second-hand pieces. Follow Apartment Guide’s steps to find the right antiques or vintage items for your place.

Whether you’re living, looking or moving, ApartmentGuide offers how-to tips for making the most of your space on a budget.

  • If you’re ready for a whole new space or looking to move, ApartmentGuide has the photos, floor plans, features and tips to help you find the perfect apartment community.

Apartment Guide and owner Consumer Source, Inc. partnered with bloggers such as me to participate in their monthly blogger programs. As part of that program, I received compensation with giftcards. They did not tell me what to purchase or what to say about the products used, and believe that consumers and bloggers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words. Consumer Source’s policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, FTC guidelines and social media engagement recommendations.

- Rhoda


  1. Morning Rhoda,

    Judging by the splotchy look of the table top, it looks like you applied too much wax. If applied correctly and evenly, you should not even be able to see it. I know because in the beginning I had the same problem with a large flat surface of an accent table. After attending my ASCP stockist training classes, I realized I was using too much wax. That is probably the most common mistake painter are making (me included). Also if you had gently sanded the unwaxed chalk paint surfaces with a super fine sandpaper or even a piece of brown paper bag, you would have had a silky smooth ..baby butt feel to the surface(super touch friendly). Aside from that…I LOVE Barcelona Orange and you were spot on in choosing that color for this room. What a gorgeous POP!

    Loved revisiting all the other great projects also…well done.

    Enjoy your week,
    Janet xox
    The Empty Nest

    • Hey, Janet, yep I did add too much wax. I watched a couple of videos & read about the wax before I started, but apparently it is a little tricky to apply very thin and even coats on a large surface like this. I wish I had never applied it, so now have to figure out what to do!

  2. Hey Rhoda,
    I had a similar experience with my wax and I agree with Janet. I used too much and really disliked the look and feel of it once I finished. I did sand my piece down and love the result. The feel of the chalk paint is so soft. Sanding also reduced the amount of paint I had used. I would water the paint down just a bit next time and use much thinner coats. Anyway, live and learn. Let me know how your poly goes on over the chalk paint. Maybe that’s how I’ll finish my piece as well.
    Take care,

  3. I am enjoying chalk painting and the wax application is about the trickiest part. Easy to get too much dark on it. I switched to CeCe Caldwell’s chalk paint and wax. Similar to ASCP but made in USA and no toxic stuff in the wax like in ASCP.

    • Note: ASCP is manufactured in Kansas City …can’t get much more ‘Made in USA’ than that ;->

      Also the small amount of ‘toxic’ stuff is what will make it more durable and cure harder that water based waxes.

      Happy painting everyone!

      janet xox

  4. I’ve yet to try using wax. I’ll be sure to keep this in mind when/if I ever do. The color looks great – so fun!

  5. Hi Rhoda. Great tips! This might sound funny but that orange table would look really cool with the ASCP napoleon blue on the top or the dark gray CP. I also waxed a large piece on the top and it didn’t buff out great. Left blotches similar to yours. I love the products though. You are right, they seem to work better in small detailed areas.

  6. Arlene Grimm says:

    Thanks for the chalk paint tips as well as the other painting suggestions. I have not used chalk paint but it is the rage in blogdom right now. I recently painted a chest of drawers in my guest room. It had been a beige color and now it is a warm reddish rust color. It really popped! I have a large armoire in my bedroom that I am thinking of painting…not sure of the color I should use. I plan to paint my bedroom Wedgewood gray by Benjamin Moore and I am trying to think of what color would be best for the armoire. I am going to paint the bedroom first before making a decision. Good luck on your house hunt!! I know there is one out there just for you Rhoda!

  7. Sarah Rehman says:

    You don’t know how timely this post is! My friend who is awesome at painting cabinets will be here in an hour to help me decide what color to paint the kids bathroom AND plain old white (laminate) vanity! The worst part is I have no idea. I have been pouring over books, mags, computer, and I cannot find anything that is jumping out at me.

    Last year I had my entire kitchen cabinets painted black. Plus we painted an old tiled floor with industrial strength floor paint. The kind used in commercial buildings. What a difference this made! Instantly updated the house.

    Now, back to stressing about the bathroom…

  8. Just want you to know I really enjoy reading your blog. Such wonderful ideas and inspiration. And…. thanks for hooking me up with hometalk.com through your recent post; I love it. I can’t wait to have a following like you…. I’m dreaming BIG. Just wish there were more hours in the day.

    • HI, Sandra, so nice to meet you & yes, Hometalk is a great site for home improvement enthusiasts like us. Enjoy your blog and have fun with it!

  9. Rhoda — I’m glad to be reading your comments on chalk paint. I’ve been reluctant to use it because I assumed the wax coating would be problematic if I decided to do another paint treatment down the road. Wax does repel water, right? Most of us use latex paints for DIY projects, unless we’re spray painting. Spray paints are lacquer-based and adhere better to most surfaces.

    I am wondering if the satin poly you brushed on the table used was a water-based poly, like Polycrylic, and how well it adhered. Did you remove all the wax with mineral spirits?

    I love the black paint projects you’re showing us, especially your old chair with the animal print seat. I use black paint to turn almost anything into something classier, more sophisticated or formal. It’s amazing the change it creates.

    I’m excited for you in your house hunting adventure. Good luck. There is one lucky house out there right now, waiting for you.

    • Hi, Barbara, I haven’t done anything yet to the table, still figuring out how to fix it. I think I’ll try taking off the wax with mineral spirits and then applying a wipe-on poly on top of that. Maybe water based. I think we will spray the chairs with matte Satin poly instead of wiping. I love spraying whenever I can to save time. I’ll keep everyone posted on the final result!

  10. I marked the page on painting laminate! I sure would love to change the color of my bathroom cabinets…they are WHITE! ♥ Thanks! ♥

  11. I love your tips on wax and the cabinet paints and primers. I have painting furniture and homes for years now and those are some great tips. I may be old to painting but am new to blogging. It is all great fun and I love all these great blogs I am finding like yours!

  12. Great tips. I am just getting ready to start a project with this paint. I can’t wait.

  13. Okay, first – YAY!!! Congrats on house-hunting. You know that comes from the bottom of my heart 😉

    Second, such an awesome post. I have many *issues* when it comes to painting furniture. I haven’t tried ASCP yet, I’ll admit, so your tips, along with your commenters are wonderful!

    Absolutely love how you add little touches and pops of color. You have such a great eye 🙂

  14. Thanks for the update on the chalk paint. I am contemplating doing this to our dining room table but still a little leery of it. The table looks beautiful though.

  15. Love the way that shelf turned out – gorgeous piece!

  16. There is no need to try to take the wax off, you can just paint with the AS paint over the wax and then add the poly. I have read mixed things about using poly but I just painted my kitchen cabinets with it and they are great and I first waxed a couple and then decided I was afraid they wouldn’t be durable enough so I added the poly acrylic. Good luck, it’s a great color!

  17. Hi Miss Rhoda, I am in love with painting too and totally agree it’s the best and cheapest way to spruce up something in your home. P.S. Love the Qtip trick. I will have to file that one away.

  18. First of all, great blog, I’ve followed you for a long time but haven’t commented yet. Such a timely post! I spent the morning buffing the wax on my armoire that I painted with ASCP French Linen. I, too, noticed some splotches that were milky and just would not buff out. I read you could put multiple wax coats on a piece, so this afternoon I put a second coat of light wax on. Already it looks better, but I will see for sure tomorrow morning. And yes, you can paint right over your waxed pieces with more ASCP, no sanding needed. I was very pleased with the paint – the armoire is laminate and I was shocked, and felt a bit naughty, that I could paint right over it without sanding or priming. It looks great though (aside from the wax issue).

  19. I just repainted my dining room chairs black…and wanted a true black, so I avoided Annie Sloan’s graphite color. I wish I had used black spray paint…I ended up using Sherwin Williams black enamel. It looks great…but it took one coat of tinted primer and two coats of paint…not an easy task! Thanks for the informative post!

  20. Hi Rhoda,
    What a good post on updating a bathroom…it looks WONDERFUL! I can’t wait to see what you do in the Master Bedroom! I am sure your Mom and Dad are so happy to have you there! I totally agree with you…my house has to be pretty as well as functional! Keep up the good work! Good luck on house hunting! I hope you find your perfect home and I know you will make it jus gorgeous! Blessings to you and your family!

  21. Will the annie sloan wax dry hard for use on a buffet and a dresser top? If so how long does it take. If I have put wax on the piece can I put poly on top of that? Can’t wait to hear from you as I am a little stressed about these projects.
    Yours Cynthia

    • HI, Cynthia, I’m not a complete expert on ASCP, but from what I understand the wax will dry hard in just a couple of days. And I do not think there is a need to add poly on top of that. The wax should protect your tabletop from harm. I wouldn’t add poly on top of the wax.

    • The problem is mine isn’t drying hard. I did a piece for my daughter 4 weeks ago and you can still see if you try to scratch it. I have read that it does dry hard but not for me. I use as little wax as possible also. Anymore hints?
      Thanks for replying

      • Hi, Cynthia, since I’ve just started working with the paint & wax, I don’t know what else to tell you, but go over to Robyn Story’s Facebook page and ask them your questions. THey are down in Tampa, Annie Sloan stockists & know exactly how to use all the products. They will help you!

  22. Hi Rhoda,

    Can you tell me some brands of the poly sealer to put over the ASCP?

    Thank you


  1. […] Updating with Paint: Quick Changes on the Cheap – … – You all know how much I love painting things around the house. I’ve been doing it for years and years, way before blogging days. Spray paint and I have been friends … […]

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